Federal officials at a virtual news conference are calling for the ongoing protests – over COVID-19 vaccine mandates and public health restrictions – in Ottawa to end.
Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair proposed a tri-lateral table of federal, provincial and municipal officials to maintain active communication, to ensure a rapid response to the City of Ottawa’s needs, in response to Ottawa declaring a state of emergency Sunday.
“We’re working together collaboratively to make sure that all three levels of government are there for the City of Ottawa, and most importantly for the residents of Ottawa, to ensure their police service has the resources and the support they need to do their job.” Blair said.
While he did acknowledge some protests across Canada were peaceful this past weekend, Minister of Public Safety Marco Mendicino says the convoy in the nation’s capital has “crossed the line of acceptable conduct towards fellow Canadians” too many times.
“It would be a terrible precedent to say that if you show up to the nation’s capital with heavy equipment, and blockade the capital city, that you can force reckless change in our public policy,” Mendicino said. “It’s been surprising that some who say they believe in law and order seem not to get this point.”
Mendicino says he is happy to see the success of police in dismantling some parts of the Ottawa convoy but that more progress is needed.
Mendicino said once this protest comes to an end, conversations need to be had about what can be done to prepare for another event similar to the convoy.
“We need to respect the right to free speech and assembly – that is an important element to our democracy – but it can’t come at the expense of public safety and I think there will be an important reflection from all this as we move forward.” he said.
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Dominic LeBlanc, President of the Treasury Board Mona Fortier, Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, and Liberal MP for Ottawa-Centre Yasir Naqvi were also present at the news conference.
Meantime, Ottawa police Chief Peter Sloly has asked the mayor to request 1,800 additional police and civilian personnel for immediate use until the end of the demonstration in the city.
That would nearly double the existing resources of the entire Ottawa Police Service, which has 2,100 police and civilian members.
Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he will make the request of the Ontario and federal governments.
He says the police service has negotiated a change to the Ottawa officers’ collective agreement so they can work without days off during the “occupation” of Ottawa.
Also, Ontario Superior Court Justice Hugh McLean has granted a 10-day injunction to prevent truckers parked on city streets in downtown Ottawa from honking their horns incessantly.
McLean says the injunction is temporary because he needs to hear more evidence, but has heard enough to make this ruling today (Mon).
McLean will hear further submissions from lawyers on how the injunction could be enforced, so today’s court hearing will continue.
Paul Champ, a lawyer representing Ottawa residents in a proposed multimillion-dollar class-action lawsuit, had argued the loud and prolonged honking is causing irreparable harm.
Keith Wilson, representing three of the respondents in the case, had told McLean the ruling on the injunction would carry national importance.
Elsewhere, scores of people gathered in front of Parliament Hill near the Prime Minister’s Office to listen to speeches and music this afternoon.
Almost no one was masked and the smell of marijuana hung in the air.
Three jerry cans sat on the trunk of a car while the occasional protester walked past carrying their own can, with at least one labelled “juice bottle.”
Small crowds of police gathered on the edges watching and talking while the protest continued to clog the area around the Hill and the National War Memorial.
(With files from The Canadian Press)